Wealthsimple Trade Review

Wealthsimple Trade Review
  • Fees and Commissions
  • Ease of Sign-up
  • Account Options
  • Investment Options
  • Platform and Mobile App
  • Customer Service
3.3

Wealthsimple Trade Review Summary:

Wealthsimple Trade is a Canadian online broker that offers 100% commission-free trading and no account minimum. It is operated by Wealthsimple, a well known financial company in Canada, and our choice for the best Canadian robo advisor service.

Unfortunately, in this case you get what you pay for: few account and investment options, very little support, and a platform that is uninformative, and comparatively unresponsive.

Our Wealthsimple Trade review breaks down why we’re so unimpressed with this platform and shows you how it compares to Qtrade, our most recommended Canadian broker.

Pros

  • No fees or commissions
  • Easy to open an account
  • $50 cash bonus on your first deposit

Cons

  • 1.5% conversion rate on US trades
  • No real-time quotes unless you pay for premium service
  • Deposits over $1500 can take up to 3 days to process
  • Only offers 3 kinds of accounts
  • ETFs and stocks only
  • No international markets
  • Nonexistent customer service
  • Next to no research tools available

Even though Wealthsimple Trade offers commission free trading, there are still much better brokers to choose from.

See our full list of the best Canadian brokers

Wealthsimple Trade is an online brokerage platform that allows you to build and manage your own investment portfolio. It’s one part of Wealthsimple, a company with 1.5 million customers and $8.4 billion in assets under management. Wealthsimple has been around since 2014 and Wealthsimple Trade launched in 2019.

Unlike Wealthsimple Invest and robo-advisors like it, Wealthsimple Trade is a 100% active investing platform. Investors with Wealthsimple Trade research, choose, buy, and sell stocks and ETFs themselves. The returns can be greater if you do your research correctly, but the risks are also far higher. 

For a great breakdown of the differences between robo-advisors and online brokers, check out our Wealthsimple vs. Questrade 2021 comparison. 

In this Wealthsimple Trade Review, we give you the full scoop on all the details of this online broker. We break down the pros and the cons of the platform and see how it compares to Qtrade, our favourite out of the Best Online Brokers in Canada. Finally, we give you our final verdict on whether this platform is worth your time (and money, if you’re trading in crypto and US assets).

Is Wealthsimple Trade Legit And Safe?

Wealthsimple is, indeed, legit. Wealthsimple Trade is regulated by IIROC (Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada) and has industry backing to the tune of $380 million from some of the world’s biggest banks. Their majority owner is Power Corporation of Canada, which has been around for more than 100 years.

Not only is Wealthsimple legit, it’s safe. Their custodial broker, Canadian ShareOwner (the company that holds your funds) is Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) protected up to $1 million per account. They use 2-factor authentication for their apps and browser interface and feature bank-level security including a 128-bit SSL certificate and the backup programs and firewalls that are standard in the financial industry.

Wealthsimple Trade Review: Trading Fees & Commissions

Wealthsimple Trade was the first online brokerage in Canada to charge no commissions at all. It has since been joined by National Bank Discount Brokerage. Most other online brokerages charge between $4.95 and $9.95 per trade. Wealthsimple Trade gives you free access to thousands of stocks and ETFs on North America’s largest stock exchanges, as well as 20+ kinds of cryptocurrency if you add on Wealthsimple Crypto.

Now, any honest Wealthsimple Trade review has to note near the top that even though you are not paying upfront for your trade, you are paying through the selling of your market trade information to meta-buyers. These buyers pay Wealthsimple for your trading information so that they can then front-run trades using algorithms.

Basically, the phrase: If you aren’t paying for the product, you ARE the product – has never been more true.

Wealthsimple also makes substantial money on the currency conversion fees from when you purchase US stocks, as well as the cash balances sitting in your account. 

You have no required minimum balance to begin investing, and you can purchase fractional shares as low as $1. This is helpful if you’re starting out and don’t have a lot to invest. 


Note: not all shares are available for fractional share purchase.

Account And Transaction Fees

Wealthsimple Trade really means it when they say no fees for trading. 

They do charge a 1.5% base conversion fee when making US trades, so keep that in mind if you’re interested in cross-border investment. If you plan to try strategies like Norbert’s Gambit, this is not the platform for you. 

They also charge a hefty 1.5-2% fee for cryptocurrency transactions.

There is a $20 fee for paper statements (save a tree, everyone). There’s also an optional premium service, which we’ll get into shortly.

Wealthsimple has been criticized in 2021 from shifting customers away from their previous laser focus on low-fee investing to its much more profitable cryptocurrency trading arm, as well as its trading platform.

Available Investments With Wealthsimple Trade

Wealthsimple Trade gives you access to thousands of US and Canadian stocks and ETFs that are listed on the following exchanges:

  • Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)
  • TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV)
  • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
  • NASDAQ
  • NEO
  • Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE)
  • BATS Exchange

Wealthsimple Trade does not support investments other than stocks or ETFs. This means that the following assets are not available for trading on this platform:

  • Mutual Funds
  • Preferred Shares
  • Options
  • Securities that trade over the counter (OTC)
  • Forwards & Futures
  • Rights and Warrants
  • Bonds
  • Investment Savings Accounts & Money Markets
  • Non-North American ETFs and stocks

Wealthsimple Trade Review: Account Options

One area where Wealthsimple Trade really falls down is their lack of account options. While other leading Canadian online brokers offer a wide range of account options including RESPs, LIRA, RIF, and corporate accounts, Wealthsimple Trade offers only:

  • Personal accounts
  • RRSP
  • TFSA

This is enough to get started with, especially if you’re a beginner or casual investor, but it’s a major downside if you’re looking for anything but the absolute basics.

Wealthsimple Trade Premium Program: Real-time Stock Prices

Two other downsides of Wealthsimple Trade are the 3-4 day hold on deposits over $1500 and the fact that the stock prices and market data on the platform are 15 minutes old. If either (or both!) of those things bother you, you could consider registering for Wealthsimple Trade Premium.

For $3/mo (plus tax) you can access Snap Quotes (real time stock prices and up to the minute market data available between 9:30 am and 4:00 pm Eastern time). You also quadruple your maximum instant deposit, allowing you to instantly add up to $5000 every 3-4 business days.

On the one hand, we’re happy they offer these options for a reasonable price… but on the other hand, if you’re serious enough about trading that you need up to the minute stock prices, there are other platforms that give you more data and analytics, plus more asset and account options, as part of their basic package. 

You can learn more about what other trading apps have to offer in our collection of The Best Stock Trading Apps in Canada

How To Sign Up For Wealthsimple Trade

To open a Wealthsimple account, you must be a Canadian resident at the legal age of majority for your province (18 or 19, depending on where you live).

Signing up is easy. First, download the app. Then enter your personal information and banking info. Wealthsimple will ask for your:

  • Full Name
  • Email
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Employment information

Once you’ve linked a bank account, you can move money into your account (you should be able to deposit up to $1500 instantly, but larger transactions can take about 3 days) and then begin investing.

If you have a Wealthsimple Invest account you can use your existing credentials to open an account, but your accounts will be separate. You can have separate TFSAs, RRSPs, and personal accounts with both Wealthsimple Trade and Wealthsimple Invest.

Wealthsimple Trade Welcome Bonus

Get a $50 cash bonus and commission-free trades when you open a Wealthsimple Trade or Crypto account and deposit and trade at least $150. Sign up today to take advantage of this offer!

Features, Tools, And Ease of Use

Wealthsimple’s trading platform is not our favourite (to say the least).

It’s streamlined to the point of oversimplification. Also, the browser version is relatively new and prone to be buggy.

The Wealthsimple site has some video resources like an investing master class that “will turn you into a financial genius in less than 45 minutes.” [Spoiler alert: it doesn’t]

Wealthsimple Trade Mobile App

Wealthsimple Trade was Canada’s first free trading app.

It’s currently ranked at #2 on the Apple store with a 4.7 star ranking and over 100K ratings. They pride themselves on a clean design and intuitive user interface… which is why we were surprised when we tried it and found it clunky and confusing.

While it does provide basic performance information for assets, the Wealthsimple interface doesn’t provide you with the analysis tools or in-depth information that many investors look for. You also don’t have a way to automatically buy or sell investments. And unless you’re giving Wealthsimple $3/month for the premium service, your stock quotes are always 15 minutes out of date. It’s definitely tailored for the new or casual investor.

Another downside for Wealthsimple Invest customers who want to try their hand at active investing: your Wealthsimple Invest and Wealthsimple Trade accounts aren’t linked. You can transfer funds between them, but only as cash.

Wealthsimple Trade Review: Customer Service

Wealthsimple Trade is designed for investors who want to do it themselves – and they took that to heart with their customer service! 

They have a Trade Help Centre (basically an FAQ) plus an email address in case you can’t find the answer to a question yourself. In comparison to the best online brokerages, it’s extremely limited.

The MDJ editorial team was unanimous in saying that we had received more complaints about the Wealthsimple Trade platform in 2021 than any other broker-related issue from any of the platform options.

Wealthsimple Trade vs QTrade

Our Wealthsimple Trade review wouldn’t be complete without putting it head-to-head with QTrade, our most recommended discount broker. You can find the basic details and some general comments here, but be sure to check out our QTrade vs Wealthsimple article as well.

Qtrade

Wealthsimple Trade

Qtrade Logo
Wealthsimple Trade

Best For

Best Broker in Canada
Low Fees

Investment Options

Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, new issues (IPOs and secondary/treasury offerings), GICs, options

Stocks and ETFs only

Free ETFs

Free to buy and sell 100+ ETFs

Free to buy and sell all ETFs
User Experience
Excellent user experience. One of the best apps on the market.

Web browser can be buggy. App is streamlined but lacks resources and some functionality.

Customer Service
Ranked #1, friendly and accessible customer service that’s second to none.
Almost nonexistent customer service. Next to no support.
Trading Fees
$8.75 ($6.95 elite accounts)
None
ECN Fees
None
None

Account Options

RRSP, RESP, TFSA, LIRA, RRIF, LIF, USD accounts. Joint, corporate, and trust options.

Personal, TFSA, RRSP

Account Fees

$25 fee that is easily avoided.

None

Research Tools and Education Materials

Top-ranked resources for over a decade.

Basic “How to invest” video resources on their site. No analytics or in-depth asset information. Stock info is 15 minutes old.

Mutual Fund Purchases

Yes, free of charge

Not Available

Safety

CIPF Member, IIROC regulated

CIPF Member, IIROC regulated

Promo

Up to $2,000 in Cashback

$50 Cash Bonus

Sign Up

We have a full QTrade review in addition to our comparison article, so you can dig deeper if you want all the details…but here’s the gist: If you want to do more than scratch the surface of DIY investing, QTrade is the clear choice. The only advantage we see in Wealthsimple Trade is that it’s free…and that’s just not good enough.

Wealthsimple Trade Review FAQ

Wealthsimple Trade Review: Final Thoughts

Wealthsimple Trade has the advantage of being a free service (unless you’re investing in crypto or US stocks). However, we question whether the money you save is worth it for a less effective, less informative platform with far fewer options than the competition.

If paying as little as possible to an institution is your ultimate goal and you don’t mind severely limited options, then Wealthsimple Trade is for you. If you want a full range of options and don’t mind paying a bit for it, then consider Qtrade or any of the brokers on our list of the Best Online Brokers in Canada.

We want to stress that we don’t have an issue with Wealthsimple, the company. Wealthsimple Invest is our most-recommended robo-advisor, after all. We’re huge fans of what Wealthsimple is doing on the passive investing front. We just feel strongly that their trading platform misses the mark on several levels.

Meg

Meg Goodmanson is a writer, editor, virtual assistant, credit card expert, and lifelong learner-of-things. A self-proclaimed nerd, Meg’s favourite thing is collecting information and presenting it in an interesting and helpful way—especially if it helps her travel for free!
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